Lower Bricktown developer Randy Hogan was told Wednesday his proposed designs for a one-story restaurant addition along the Bricktown Canal are too oriented to parking and do little to interact with the waterway.
Hogan was first designated developer for the city-owned land in 1997 and paid $3 million for the entire area, the proceeds of which were then used to build walkways and bridges to accommodate his project.
The Urban Renewal Authority, which has design and development control of the area, refused to approve Hogan's plans for a 10,000-square-foot building that he wants to build along the canal between Toby Keith's I Love this Bar and Grill and Earl's Rib Palace. One of two new restaurants set to be tenants in the building is an eatery associated with Thunder star player Kevin Durant and owned by the Hal Smith Restaurant Group.
“I think it's real attractive,” Hogan said when asked about the frontage facing surface parking to the south instead of the waterway. “Toby Keith's has been very successful with its storefront facing south.”
Commissioners were told the parapet wall of the new building will be at least 17 feet high — tall enough to block any view of the rooftop and air conditioners from nearby canal patio seating in front of Earl's.
Commissioners, however, remained unhappy with Hogan's minimal patio space along the waterway.
They also didn't agree with his plan to limit canal access for the new building to a 9-foot alley between it and Toby Keith's. Neither wall would have any windows.
“A 9-foot walkway with no windows, 17 feet high, is like walking through a canyon and will be very uncomfortable,” Commissioner Larry Nichols said.
Urban Renewal commissioners appeared united in countering that Hogan is going too far in developing his buildings so that they face the surface parking and not the canal. Hogan countered he is trying to cater to the interests of his tenants who do not wish to have multiple entrances.
“We're making the canal more and more sterile as we go along with this process,” Commissioner Jim Tolbert said. “The more times we have building faces that are closed to the public on that side, the more isolated the canal gets. We're going in the wrong direction.”
Hogan stood his ground, saying his priority is to be sensitive to retailers and that they are “the stars of the show.”
“I can understand your need to accommodate your tenant,” Tolbert responded.
“I think we're making a mistake. We didn't start to build out store fronts on a parking lot. We set out to build development along the canal.”